Tricia Miller

Priebus Taps Texan as RNC General Counsel

A Texan will serve as the Republican National Committee’s next general counsel, Chairman Reince Priebus announced Thursday.
Texas National Committeeman Bill Crocker will take over the position Priebus held while Michael Steele was RNC chairman. Crocker has been the RNC committeeman for Texas since 2004.
“I am thrilled to have someone on board with not only the legal and political expertise that Bill possesses, but also someone who is an expert on the nuts and bolts of this committee,” Priebus said in a statement. “His long service in Republican politics and experience at the grassroots level makes him an ideal choice as we continue to grow our Party.”

Iowa GOP Chairman Warns Other States Over 2012 Calendar

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn fired a warning shot to states that may want to move their presidential nominating contests ahead of the four traditionally early states at a press briefing at the Republican National Committee on Thursday morning.

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are scheduled by RNC bylaws to go first in the presidential nominating process, but already Minnesota and Florida are trying to move up their primaries. That could mean half of their delegates wouldn’t get a vote at the Republican National Convention. Asked about Florida, which will host the convention in 2012, Strawn said Sunshine State Republicans should carefully consider whether breaking the RNC’s rules to move up their primary is worth it.

Michigan Democrats Weary Over Redistricting
Four ‘Old Bull’ Democrats Have Weathered Redistricting Before, and Each Wants to Remain in Congress

In Michigan, four Democratic Congressmen who are among the oldest in Congress are preparing for another brutal round of redistricting controlled by Republicans.

With their previous redistricting experience and seniority in the House, Reps. John Dingell, 84, John Conyers, 81, Dale Kildee, 81, and Sander Levin, 79, all say they plan on sticking around to seek another term.

Shop Talk: Democratic Campaign Veterans Join Direct-Mail Firm

Alex Zwerdling, political director for House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Kate Chapek, a consultant who worked most recently for the now-defunct firm MSHC Partners, have joined the Democratic direct-mailing firm the Baughman Co. as principals.

Zwerdling, a Massachusetts native, worked as Hoyer’s political director during the 2010 election cycle.

Poll Shows Kohl With Advantage in Potential Fifth Term

A poll released Wednesday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) well-positioned to win re-election if he decides to run for a fifth term in 2012.
No one has declared intentions to run for Senate in Wisconsin in 2012, but the poll indicated that Kohl would defeat the obvious potential Republican challengers. The strongest challenger, Rep. Paul Ryan, came out 7 points behind Kohl, 42 percent to 49 percent. Ryan recently became chairman of the House Budget Committee, and he seems unlikely to pursue a Senate bid.
Kohl fared even better against former Rep. Mark Neumann, 51 percent to 37 percent, and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, 52 percent to 37 percent. The survey of 768 Wisconsin voters was taken Feb. 24 to Sunday and had a margin of error of 3.5 points.
In case the 76-year-old incumbent decides not to run, PPP also tested former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), who lost his seat in 2010 to Ron Johnson, 52 percent to 47 percent.

Feingold also polled well against the Republicans, finishing ahead of Ryan by the same margin as the Kohl-Ryan matchup. The survey showed Feingold ahead of Neumann, 50 percent to 40 percent, and Van Hollen, 51 percent to 39 percent.
Both Democrats had high favorability ratings. Kohl’s approval ratings are among the highest of Senators whom PPP has polled, the firm said: Half of those polled approved of the work he does, and 30 percent disapproved.

Rand Paul Heads to Iowa to Promote Book

Freshman Sen. Rand Paul will offer the keynote address at the Iowa GOP’s second Night of the Rising Stars fundraiser on April 2 in Des Moines, the party announced Wednesday. But the Kentucky Republican’s office said that unlike a lot of other Republicans parading through the Hawkeye State, the tea party favorite won’t be there to campaign.

“Sen. Paul is going Iowa to do two things: Talk about his book, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington,” and then to help talk about what the Tea Party is looking for in 2012,” Paul spokesman Gary Howard wrote in an e-mail. “He is hoping to start a conversation, and is not running for anything.”

Romney Gives Big to Vulnerable Freshmen

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) announced his next round of donations to Members of Congress, and most of them went to vulnerable freshmen.

Romney, a likely 2012 presidential candidate, may be trying to shore up support among legislators. His Free and Strong America political action committee gave a total of $83,500 to 40 Members of Congress, in addition to $124,500 that he gave to Republicans in February, the PAC announced in a release. That brings the PAC to a total of $208,000 given to Congressional Republicans already in 2011.

Off-Year Elections Mean Redistricting Head Start for Four States

Each state will go through redistricting this year, but four of them will tackle the process early thanks to off-year elections. Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana and Mississippi could not be more different when it comes to drawing new lines for Members and state legislative districts. Virginia legislators will put together the state’s plan during a special session, while New Jersey will handle the lines through a bipartisan commission and split the process in two so the state legislative races are ready by the fall elections. Down South, Louisiana legislators must draw lines to factor in a one-seat loss due to population decline. In Mississippi, it could be a partisan showdown since Democrats control both chambers of the state House but Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has the ability to veto their plan.


Nebraska Treasurer to Enter GOP Senate Primary

Correction Appended

Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg on Tuesday morning will announce a run for Senate, setting up a Republican primary as the GOP attempts to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson (D). 

Divided GOP Primary May Help Nelson

Sen. Ben Nelson, the most vulnerable Senator up for re-election in 2012, may get a gift in a divided GOP primary, as top-tier Republicans line up to oppose him.

Nelson is the only Democrat in Nebraska’s Congressional delegation, and Roll Call Politics rates his re-election race as a Tossup. Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee through two election cycles in the late 1990s, said a competitive Republican primary probably benefits the Democrat.

Dallas Republican to Mount Senate Bid

Republican Tom Leppert, marking his last day as mayor of Dallas, on Friday will add his name to the long list of candidates running to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

Dallas doesn’t allow elected officials to run for another position while they’re still in office, so Leppert told the city council on Wednesday that he would step down, and he told his Twitter followers on Friday that he would file paperwork to join the race.

Rick Wiley Named RNC Political Director
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus continued to fill out his senior staff Thursday, announcing Rick Wiley will be the committee’s new political director.
Like Priebus, Wiley has substantial ties to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. He served as political director and then executive director of the party, and in January 2007 he left to work as deputy political director on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid.
NRCC Builds 2012 Team

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) announced the committee’s political team for the 2012 cycle Thursday morning.

Political Director Mike Shields, who led the committee’s independent expenditure arm during the 2010 cycle, and Deputy Political Director Brock McCleary, who served as Northeast political director at the NRCC during the 2010 cycle, will lead the team.

RNC Hires Hill Veteran

Sean Spicer, a veteran of Republican campaigns and Capitol Hill, will be the new communications director at the Republican National Committee, the committee confirmed Thursday.

Spicer, now a partner at Endeavour Global Strategies, most recently handled media and public affairs for the U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush. He has also managed press relations for the House Republican Conference, the House Budget Committee, the House Government Reform Committee and multiple Members of Congress. He directed incumbent retention at the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2000 election cycle.

Former Clinton Aides Discuss Implications of Shutdown

A pair of former staffers to President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday that a government shutdown in 1995 helped the Democrat win re-election in 1996, something that could be a foreshadowing for President Barack Obama (D) and a potential government shutdown this spring.

“I think it won him the ’96 election,” said Elaine Kamarck, who now teaches public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “I think the political impact was enormous. I think after the shutdown he was ahead of [Bob] Dole and frankly never fell behind him. You know, I think politically it really did work to Clinton’s advantage. [then-Speaker Newt] Gingrich didn’t play it very well. I assume Gingrich could have played it better.”

Emanuel Wins Chicago Mayoral Race Outright

Updated: 11:07 p.m.

Former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) will be the next mayor of Chicago, winning 55 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election with 97 percent of precincts counted, according to the city’s Board of Election Commissioners.

Emerson Declines Missouri Senate Bid

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced on Tuesday that she won’t run against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2012.

“I’m honored to have been approached by so many encouraging people about the opportunity to serve our state in the U.S. Senate,” the Missouri Republican said in a statement. “I gave the matter a significant amount of consideration, talked it over with my family, and consulted with my trusted advisers and staff. We talked about what I can do as a junior member of the Senate and what I can do as a senior member of the U.S. House, and I decided the best possible way to serve Southern Missouri — as well as the entire state — is from my current post.”

Emerson, who was elected to replace her late husband in 1996, is the second House Member to pass on the Senate race. Rep. Sam Graves (R), who has represented northwest Missouri since 2001, decided not to run earlier this month. Missouri Republicans may have been encouraged to look at the race partially because the state will lose a House seat in reapportionment.

Chicago Voters Head to the Polls

Former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is likely to be the next mayor of Chicago. But the question being answered in Tuesday's election will be whether the former White House chief of staff clears the threshold to avoid a runoff.

The election marks a major shift in Chicago politics. The top job at city hall is open because Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was first elected in 1989, announced in September that he wouldn't run for re-election. Daley is the son of former Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Lugar’s GOP Challenger Emerges

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock will kick off his campaign against Sen. Dick Lugar Tuesday, setting up the longtime Republican lawmaker for a potentially competitive primary. Mourdock told Roll Call that he will reveal a list of supporters that includes more than 75 percent of GOP county chairmen in the state.

Ted Ogle, chairman of both the Bartholomew County and 6th Congressional district Republican parties said he would be among the county chairmen endorsing Mourdock.

RNC Surpasses Major Donor Goal Under New Chairman

Updated: 11:26 p.m.

The Republican National Committee raised $5.7 million in January, and new Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday that $3.5 million of the total came in after his election Jan. 14.